The west’s version of kudzu — a noxious weed known as Dyer’s woad — is being sniffed out by specially trained dogs as part of a program in Montana aimed at eradicating the fast-spreading, yellow blooming, Russian-born member of the mustard family.
First found in Montana in 1934, the weed, native to southeast Russia, can grow four inches in a week, produce as many as 10,000 seeds, send its roots five feet underground and climb waist high, leaving little room for native plants.
That’s where the dogs come in.
Deb Tirmenstein and her dogs — a Labrador named Wibaux and a border collie called Seamus — joined Montana’s Dyer’s woad eradication project in 2011.
Wibaux, initially trained to find cadavers, and Seamus, who was rescued from a Bozeman shelter, now scramble up and down mountains sniffing out pockets of the weed. When they find some, they get a treat, and the weed gets sprayed with herbicides.
The project grew out of research conducted at Montana State University, acording to an article by the Montana State University News Service, published in the Helena Independent Record.
Montana Dyer’s Woad Cooperative Project started in 1984, and it has seen the weed’s presence drop from 17 counties down to seven – Beaverhead, Silver Bow, Carbon, Flathead, Gallatin, Missoula and Park.
The dogs are just the most recent tool in the battle.
Kim Goodwin, a research associate in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in MSU’s College of Agriculture, started investigating the possibility of using dogs to detect noxious weeds when she was a master’s degree student at MSU.
Goodwin’s research showed that dogs and people complement each other when looking for noxious weeds. People can spot large flowering patches of the plants ; dogs can detect single plants, even before they start sprouting.
“Through our research, we found they are able to detect twice as many small plants as the surveyors do,” Goodwin said.
This year on Mount Sentinel in Missoula the dogs detected about 40 locations that humans missed, said Goodwin, whose original research used German shepherds and focused on knapweed.
Goodwin said she got the idea for using dogs to detect noxious weeds after reading about the ”Beagle Brigade,” which inspects luggage and boxes for the USDA at U.S. airports and ports of entry.
Trainers introduced Wibaux to Dyer’s woad by hiding the weed inside a box with holes in the lid and placing the box next to boxes containing other weeds.
When Wibaux realized she would receive a treat or get to retrieve a ball every time she detected Dyer’s woad, she started honing in on it.
(Photos of Wibaux and Seamus by Sepp Jannotta / MSU)
Posted by jwoestendiek November 15th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, border collie, control, Deb Tirmenstein, detection, dogs, dyers woad, eradication, idaho, kim goodwin, labrador, montana, montana state university, nature, noxious, pets, program, research, retriever, science, seamus, sniff, sniffing, weed, weeds, west, wibaux, woad
As medical marijuana grows in popularity, so too does the chance that the dog is going to get into it.
It’s always been something that happens – dogs have been chowing down on their owner’s illegal stashes for decades, sometimes with fatal results.
But with the increasing use of medical marijuana, dogs are more likely to both have access to it and be tempted by it. For one thing, it doesn’t have to be hidden anymore. It can be kept in higher quantities. And, increasingly, those taking it for medical reasons are eating it instead of smoking it.
As a result, instead of a well-hidden bag of green leafy buds, dogs must resist the temptation of such things as rice crispy marijuana treats, cannabis oreo cookie cake, medical snickerdoodles and ganja lasagna.
In Colorado, there has been a spike in the number of cases of dogs getting sick from cannabis since medical marijuana was legalized.
Vets say they used to see dogs who had ingested marijuana a few times a year. Now pet owners bring in doped-up dogs as many as five times a week, CBS4 in Denver reports.
“There are huge spikes in the frequency of marijuana ingestion in places where it’s become legal,” veterinarian Dr. Debbie Van Pelt said.
Most of the time dogs get the medical marijuana by eating food laced with it — either that which their owners have prepared, or pre-laced foods purchased from dispensaries selling the products.
Dr. Stacy Meola, a veterinarian who coordinated a study looking at the numbers, say four times as many dogs have been getting treatment for ingesting marijuana since medical marijuana was legalized in Colorado.
It’s not always fatal, but it can be.
Most dogs survive, experiencing symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, staggering and sensitivity to sound and light.
In addition to accidental cases, veterinarians say some dog owners think it’s funny to get their dogs stoned– and even post videos of it.
“We need people to realize it is potentially toxic and potentially fatal to their pets,” Van Pelt said.
Posted by jwoestendiek October 3rd, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baking, brownies, butter, coma, cookies, cooking, deaths, dispensaries, dog, dogs, eating, fatal, ganja lasagna, grass, health, ill, lethargy, marijuana, medical, medical marijuana, pets, pot, recipes, rice crispy treats, safety, sickness, smoking, snickerdoodles, survival, toxic, treatment, veterinarians, vomiting, warning, weed
This guy — even in his unadulterated form — seemed to be lurking, waiting for unsuspecting hikers to pass by.
But several of them did and he just stood there.
Perhaps, in my attempt to make him more visible, I made him appear more ominous than he really was.
(Tomorrow: A kudzu dog offering his paw)
Posted by jwoestendiek July 17th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, art, attack of the giant kudzu dogs, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, kudzu, kudzu dog, kudzu dogs, landscape, nature, north carolina, pets, photography, shapes, south, travels with ace, vines, weed, winston-salem
This utility pole — in Kinston, North Carolina, about 90 minutes east of Raleigh — has been attracting attention in the last week from people who see in it a strong resemblance to Jesus on the cross.
And who are we to argue — especially with our addiction to kudzu dogs?
Kent Hardison, who goes by the pole every day on his way to work at Ma’s Hotdog House, told the Free Press of Kinston that he considered spraying weed killer on it when he first saw it, but then thought better of it.
“I glanced at it, and it looks like Jesus,” Hardison said. “I thought, ‘You can’t spray Jesus with Roundup.’”
Hardison said some of his customers think the vine might be an indication that God is watching over the region — and he thinks that’s possible. As he noted, there are some similarities between kudzu and Jesus.
“It doesn’t matter what you do, it is going to be around,” he said. “Ain’t that a lot like Jesus?”
And, as one news report pointed out, The Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying “I am the true vine.”
Based on our vast experience, and being — while a disciple of dog — an afficianado of kudzu, I can tell you that Kudzu Jesus isn’t kudzu, despite what’s being reported by news media around the world.
At the time, spending hours seeking out and photographing kudzu growing in the shape of dogs, I questioned what had become of my life — how a prize-winning journalist had been reduced to pursuing such a trivial diversion. But now it all pays off, as I can warn the world of a false prophet.
Kudzu Jesus is actually Trumpet Vine Jesus.
To its credit, The Free Press, which broke the story of Kudzu Jesus, corrected itself today, reporting that “multiple sources” have confirmed “that the Christ-like vine on a pole about one mile south of Kinston on U.S. 258 South, is actually Trumpet Vine — a wild vine native to Southeastern U.S.”
Both a local historian and an agriculture extension agent told the newspaper that trumpet vine — named for its trumpet-shaped flowers — is what’s growing up the pole.
Don’t be fooled by Trumpet Vine Jesus; wait until the real kudzu saviour comes along — and I’m sure, in time, he will.
(Top photo: Charles Buchanan / Daily Free Press)
(Bottom photo: John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 30th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: christ, cross, crucifixion, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growing, image, imagination, jesus, jesus christ, kinston, kudzu, kudzu dogs, kudzu jesus, mistake, news media, north carolina, religion, saviour, shape, south, travels with ace, trumpet vine, utility pole, vine, vines, weed, weeds
Sweeping back through the south, we’ve crossed Tennessee and made it to North Carolina, this time without the benefit of what, back in the summer, was our favorite form of highway entertainment — looking for dogs in the kudzu.
The Vine That Ate the South is naked now, having lost its leaves for winter, leaving behind only long strands of clumped-together, spindly, bare vines. I can no longer see big green animals in the leaves, only stick figures, spider webs, spaghetti and road maps.
The kudzu will be back, though, in spring — and ready to spread as quickly as “adult superstores” have through Tennessee. There are a lot of “adult superstores” in the Volunteer State. Going down I-40, it seems like every other billboard is either touting an “adult superstore” or the fact that Jesus Saves.
After crossing the Mississippi River, we stopped outside of Memphis for a quick visit with my son, checking into a Best Western, where I had reserved a room online, after seeing it touted itself as dog-friendly.
Not until I arrived did I see that there were pet fees, according to a posting at the front desk – $15 for a dog between 5 and 20 pounds, $25 for dogs 20 to 40 pounds, and $35 for dogs 40 pounds and up.
I immediately squawked — I’ve become a bit more of a squawker in recent months – pointing out that I’d be paying almost as much for the dog as for me.
“How much does your dog weigh?” asked the desk clerk.
I thought about lying, but, having seen too many God billboards, couldn’t. Over 100 pounds, I said, adding that he’s much better behaved than a lot of 10 pound dogs, and pointing out that the whole charging by weight concept was ludicrous.
The desk clerk made a face like he’d swallowed something yukky and excused himself. Ten minutes later he was back, with a room assignment and news that they’d only charge me $25 for the dog.
Too tired to have any principles, and wanting to get off the road on New Year’s Eve, I accepted the discount and took the room. Then I seethed about the whole thing — especially the weight part — for a couple more hours.
Charging fees for dogs is not dog-friendly; its dog-greedy. I wonder how much damage dogs do to motel rooms across America, compared to that done by people.
Rather than pet fees, maybe motels should be looking at rock star fees — for they, if we’re going to stereotype, are famous for trashing rooms. Why not a fraternity boy fee? A student on spring break fee? A crying baby fee? A loud sex fee?
Only twice in our travels have we experienced loud sex — both times from the room next door. Ace and I did the only thing we could. We tilted our heads and looked at the wall the sounds were coming from, then turned up the TV.
Is that constitutional? Even prisons allow visitors.
Depite all the control being exercised in motels, or at least the one we stayed at, Tennessee, as a state, seems less successful at reigning in kudzu, or adult superstores. (Not that I have anything against adult superstores; it’s a free country, except at the particular Best Western we stayed in.)
As we passed through Tennessee, I stopped at several huge thickets of kudzu (and at no adult superstores, though I was wondering what exactly made them “super”).
I searched the bare vines for dog shapes, which some some of you may recall became a bit of an obsession for me over the summer, but I could find none.
Instead, all I could see in the withered and weepy vines were hunched over old witches, overworked peasants and evil motel desk clerks who charged exorbitant pet fees.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 3rd, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adult superstore, america, animals, best western, dog, dog friendly, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, forms, god, i-40, Interstate 40, jesus, kudzu, kudzu dogs, lodging, motel, pet friendly, pets, road trip, shapes, south, tennessee, tourism, travel, traveling with dogs, travels with ace, weed
I came across Sitting Kudzu Dog as I approached Oxford, Mississippi.
Tell me you see him, too.
Otherwise, I might start thinking I’m crazy — for all the things I see in kudzu … and clouds. Nature’s ink blot tests, that’s what they are.
I’ve been seeing things in kudzu for many years now– ever since I harvested kudzu with a woman in Georgia (for a newspaper story), who was putting the south’s evil and fast-spreading weed to good use, making baskets and other crafts out of it.
I’d buy some large, kudzu-contaminated parcel of land in the south, just off an interstate highway, and get one of those trucks with the hydraulic man-lifting buckets, like the phone and cable companies use, and begin trimming all the unwieldy growth into the shapes of animals. Actually, I would see the animal within first, then, through trimming, free it, so to speak.
Also, along with my staff, we’d train young kudzu, using clothesline and wooden forms, to grow into the shape of animals. The Kud-Zoo would also serve as a commune for kudzu artists and craftsmen, and kudzu artisans who’d make kudzu wine, kudzu tea and kudzu cigarettes on the premises.
We would have an old school bus, painted as if it were covered with kudzu, which — when we weren’t busy running the roadside attraction (i.e. the non-summer months) — we’d drive to schools to give presentations about kudzu, and how the more things we can figure out to do with it, the better of we’d be.
I put the Kud-Zoo right up there with my all time great ideas, and share it now only because I don’t think I’m going to get around to it. If you want it, it’s your’s.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 31st, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, botany, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, growth, kudzu, kudzu dog, mississippi, ohmidog!, pets, plant, road trip, sitting kudzu dog, south, travel, traveling with dogs, weed
When we pointed out the dangers of dogs eating marijuana last month, we didn’t even stop to think about the possibility of this double whammy — dogs eating marijuana brownies.
Renee Morgan says her white standard poodle Saydy did just that last week.
Saydy ate a marijuana brownie someone tossed into Morgan’s back yard in Danville, California, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Morgan returned home from work to find the two-year-old dog wasn’t “her normal, rambunctious self.” The dog had urinated on herself, couldn’t stand and was shaking.
Morgan scoured the yard looking for something Saydy might have eaten, and collected some vomit for tests at a veterinary emergency center, where Saydy was checked for bee stings and other injuries.
Morgan said that when the veterinarian realized the street Morgan lives on is near a trail, he suggested drug testing. A few hours later, as her dog was recovering overnight at the animal hospital, Morgan was called with the results — Saydy was high on marijuana.
“We would have never thought it was this,” said Morgan, who is a member of the town’s Planning Commission. “I’ve never tried marijuana in my life. We don’t even drink.”
Morgan was told by police officers that hikers sometimes get high on the trail, disposing of their drugs when they see someone coming.
Saydy — despite the toxic combo of chocolate and pot — is fine after $1,500 worth of treatment and medical tests.
Posted by jwoestendiek July 6th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: brownies, california, canine, chocolate, danville, dog, drugs, grass, health, marijuana, pot, renee morgan, safety, saydy, standard poodle, tests, toxic, warning, weed
A dog owner thinks her 11-year-old Labrador mix, Jack, got sick after accidentally eating marijuana at a Seattle park.
Jack, after being unleashed in Seattle’s Seward Park, wandered off for about three minutes. About three hours later, ”his head was rocking back and forth his eyes were glassy,” said his owner, Jen Nestor.
Nestor thinks her dog must have happened upon some marijuana stashed somewhere in the park greenery, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
According to his medical records, Jack appeared dizzy and disoriented, was staggering and fell over when trying to sit. He also vomited large amounts of plant material and liquid that smelled like marijuana, his owner said.
Police say the story sounds legit, and point out that a wilderness guide playing hide and seek with kids in Seward Park discovered a duffel bag packed with five and a half pounds of marijuana on April 3.
Jack, after $1,500 in medical bills, has recovered from his May 17 experience.
Marijuana can be toxic to dogs and, depending on a dogs’ size and the amount consumed, ingesting it can send them into a coma.
Dogs getting into their owners’ stashes — be they illegal or medically approved — isn’t really as rare an event as you might think. Figuring there are dogs in 43 million U.S. homes, and people who have smoked marijuana in the past year in 25 million homes, there’s got to a multi-million overlap there.
In parts of Northern California, vets face such cases regularly, with some attending to several zonked-out dogs a week, according to a 2005 Los Angeles Times story.
(Photo: Rocky, a Nebraska drug detection dog, sits atop a large haul in 2007, courtesy Douglas County Sheriff’s Department)
Posted by jwoestendiek June 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, coma, consumed, dog, dogs, eat, eating, grass, health, ill, marijuana, park, pets, pot, safety, seattle, sick, weed